Inspiring stuff: Melbourne a global leader in sustainabilty, creates jobs and a livable city

A guest post care of my good friend Mike, taken from his blog “Watching the Deniers”, which is about combatting the climate change deniers and sceptics, and addressing the misinformation out there.

The City of Melbourne has been awarded as a leader in sustainability in an awards ceremony in London for its green buildings program.

This really is great, inspirational stuff. I heart Melbourne too!

Watching the Deniers


Permit me to exhibit a bit of home town pride, but the city of Melbourne has recetnly been recognised as a leader in sustainability:

The City of Melbourne has been recognised as a global leader in cultivating green buildings, receiving a prestigious international award.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle was presented with the C40 and Siemens Climate Leadership Award in the category of Energy Efficient Built Environment at a ceremony in London overnight. Berlin and New York were also shortlisted for the award.

“Melbourne, the most liveable city in the world, has now been recognised as having some of the smartest buildings in the world,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We know that sustainability and liveability are inexorably linked. For us to maintain a high standard of living we need to set the highest standards in sustainability.

“Every piece of research tells me that a sustainable city with high quality of…

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Luck. It’s a relative thing.

I have a theory that if a day is meant to be bad, it’ll turn out bad. Doesn’t matter what you do to try to make it good, if fate has decreed it’s going to be a crappy day you absolutely cannot stop it from turning out crappy.

As you might expect, I also think the converse is true. Sometimes, no matter how many mistakes or errors of judgment you make, things keep turning out all right.

This morning I thought I was having the second kind of day.

Anyone who knows me will agree that, firstly, I’m not a morning person, and secondly, I’m not very good at being on time. Consequently, the whole getting to work on time thing is a battle I fight every morning. Sometimes if I’m late the universe has conspired against me (for example, train delays) but more often than not it’s my own inability to focus on what I need to do to get out of the house on time and my propensity to get distracted.

So not a huge surprise that this morning I left the house running a few minutes late, certain I’d miss the train I needed to catch to be at work on time. The universe, however, had other plans. Fate intervened in the form of a bus that turned up exactly when I needed it to and I managed to make my train.

(Yes! Thank you, Universe!)

You can understand why I thought perhaps it was going to be the kind of day that conspires for you and ensures that, despite all you do to stuff things up, it turns out okay.

I even got a seat on the train.

(Double yes!)

Twenty minutes later as we pulled into Richmond Station, however, the driver announced that the train would not be running through the City Loop because of a signalling fault. Instead, it would be going direct to Flinders Street.

I, of course, needed to go through the Loop.

(Noooooooo. No, no, no, no, no, no… Universe! What are you doing?)

I got off my train to wait for one that would take me through the Loop. As I stood on the platform contemplating my bad luck, it occurred to me that there were people who had been on the same train as me for whom this unexpected change was a good thing. Maybe they had to get off at Flinders Street and they were running late, so not going through the Loop meant they were now going to be on time. Just as half the carriage groaned with the driver’s announcement, the other half did a mental fist pump and said, Yes! Thank you Universe! Just as I had, 20 minutes earlier.

Luck, I realised, is a totally relative thing. As it turns out, I’m not at the centre of the universe. It’s not all about me. Sometimes it’s the other people’s turn to have fate conspire for them.

Realising this made me feel a lot better about my morning. I realised I don’t mind being a bit late to work if it means a whole bunch of other people feel lucky and that their day has just been made. Thinking about it totally cheered me up and turned my morning around again.

Which is quite lucky, don’t you think?


Which Way to Confusion Corner?

Have you ever been waiting for someone on the street and seen someone standing near you looking slightly confused? You know what I’m talking about. They look a little lost. Like they’re having an internal conversation with themselves, trying to figure out their next move but unsure which direction to move in.

Those are the people I have a weakness for. When I see people like that I have an overwhelming desire to walk up and ask if I can help them. The thing is, I’m trying to learn to control this urge because I have an unfortunate history of … well, getting it wrong.

It started a few years ago when I was waiting for my friend Turtle (long story) on the corner of Bourke and Spring Streets. Turtle and I used to meet every Monday for a coffee and at the time, we’d meet at Bourke and Spring and then walk down Spring Street one block to Café Excello. As I stood there and waited I noticed a little old lady near me, looking a bit lost. I asked if I could help and I can’t remember now where she said she wanted to go but I remember telling her she needed to catch the 112 tram, which for the non-Melbournians in the audience, you catch from Collins Street.

Now… that part of it was correct. The part I stuffed up was when I told her to catch the tram from the tram stop “just there” (ie on Bourke Street), because (and I know it sounds unlikely but it’s true) I thought I was on Collins Street at the time.

It was only once Turtle and I had got to the café and I was proudly telling him what a great citizen I was, that I realised my mistake. As if on cue, just as I was thinking about how annoyed the poor woman must’ve been when she realised I’d given her the wrong directions, she walked past the cafe, heading towards Collins Street to catch the 112 from the correct tram stop. And yes, she looked very annoyed.

Thereafter Turtle referred to our meeting spot at Bourke and Spring as “Confusion Corner”.

The second instance of my inadvertent unhelpfulness occurred about a year after the Confusion Corner incident. I was on a tram heading east along Bourke Street when, just before the Bourke Street Mall, the tram pulled up quite suddenly. After a minute or two the tram doors opened, despite not being at a designated stop. I poked my head out to take a look and saw that my tram was behind several others that were banked up.

There was only myself, a young man, and a family of five from India who were clearly tourists, on the tram. After another minute or so, the young man got off the tram and the Indian family looked a little hesitant. A little lost. Thinking that something had occurred on the line further down and that the tram would be terminating, I told the Indian family to hop off the tram as it would be travelling no further. They looked a bit unsure but I assured them that I worked in public transport, which I did at the time, and that was enough for them. They all stepped off the tram.

On the other hand, I wanted to investigate the matter so I headed to the front of the tram. I was just about to knock on the driver’s cabin door when the tram’s engine kicked into gear, the doors closed and we started moving. I looked onto the street where the Indian family that I had persuaded off the tram were all pointing and looking up at me with looks of utter confusion and utter disdain. I felt terrible because I really had meant to be helpful.

So after that I tried very hard not to give anyone directions or be helpful in any way. Best to just leave people to their initial confusion rather than confuse them more, I reasoned.

I was doing fine but then recently it happened again. It was on my road trip with my friend Joi. We’d stopped in Lakes Entrance for the night and had gone out to a really lovely dinner at Miriam’s. We were walking back along the Esplanade to our motel when a man coming towards us asked us if the KFC was “that way” (ie behind us).

Now, in my defence, I’d had a little bit to drink and I was really tired. “Yep! Right down there!” I said to him cheerfully, glad to be of service. Which is why it was such a shame that we walked another 20 metres or so and came upon the KFC… in exactly the opposite direction to the one in which I’d pointed.

Which is why if you’re ever feeling a little lost and you see me on the street, and I have a really helpful look on my face, it’s best you turn around and start walking away from me. Very very quickly.

A Tourist In My Own Town

I’m not working at the moment. Sorry, I should clarify: I’m not in paid employment at the moment. I’ve been back from Europe three weeks and I still have no set routine from day to day, unless you count waking up at one end of the day and going to sleep at the other.

I have to confess that I haven’t been looking for work. The truth is, I don’t want to work just yet, and even looking for paid employment is a kind of work. I have had a very difficult couple of years and I keep telling myself that I deserve a little break. So instead, I’ve spent the last three weeks living like a sort of tourist in my own town.

By that I mean that I’ve been experiencing life in my own city at a tourist’s pace. A few weeks ago I went into the city to have lunch with a friend at the Spencer Street end of town. I then took a tram along Bourke Street to the Spring Street end where I had some errands to run. I looked around me on the tram and realised that nearly everyone else was going back to work after their lunch break; I could tell not only because they were mostly all in office gear but because it also showed on their faces. I was very conscious of the fact that for the first time in a long time I wasn’t rushing back to work after lunch, trying to think up an excuse for being late. In fact, I wasn’t rushing back to anywhere. It felt fantastic.

And this has happened a few times now. For example, last week I caught up with another friend, also not working, for a nice, long lunch at The Bohemian, a lovely tapas restaurant/bar at South Wharf. We sat outside and ate paella and drank beer and talked and talked. Unlike the times we’d had lunch together when we were both working, this time neither of us checked on the time every 20 minutes to make sure we weren’t going to be late back because neither of us had anywhere to get back to. Eventually we took a very leisurely stroll back along the river to Flinders Street Station to catch a train home, stopping along the way to grab some very refreshing and delicious gelato at Baci (the blood orange is to die for, in case you’re wondering).

When you’re not working, you see the city and its routines in a completely different way. When I worked in the city Monday to Friday, which is to say, for the last 14 years or so, I would see groups of travellers get on morning peak trains with their bikes, or people with suitcases or backpacks. They’d struggle to get on a peak train, squishing up against the hundreds of commuters already sardined into the train. I’d think, Really? You have to be on the train now? How could these people not see that they were taking up precious commuter space and making an already difficult part of the day even more difficult for us?

But when you’re not commuting you don’t even think about peak and non-peak times of the day. All hours of the day are created equal. And a train is just the means to get somewhere. It’s not part of your daily routine because you have no daily routine!

So yes, it’s true. After I’d been out all afternoon in South Wharf I’d got on a peak hour train at Flinders Street, curled up on a seat by a window and fell asleep, totally oblivious to the fact that I was depriving some poor, tired commuter of a seat.

Sorry about that.